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DIY: Powerful directory syncing for free

DirSync Pro is an outstanding tool that will have you syncing directories to ensure the safe backups of data.

Clients often ask me about backup solutions. You can drop thousands of dollars on a corporate level backup solution that will get you a bare metal recovery -- even onto different hardware -- but for small companies, sole proprietorships, and not-for-profits, free backup solutions are often the best options.

An outstanding directory sync tool that also happens to be free is DirSync Pro. The tool has an incredibly user-friendly interface; nearly anyone can set up syncing pairs with this tool and have them syncing in no time.

Requirements

DirSync Pro will run on Windows, OS X, and Linux. A Java Runtime Environment must be installed on the machine. The latest stable DirSync Pro is compiled to run at JRE 1.60 or higher, so if your JRE does not meet that minimum, you will need to upgrade.

Features

  • Bi-directional synchronization
  • Highly customizable sync modes
  • Conflict resolution
  • Unlimited file/folder syncing
  • Highly configuration syncing options
  • Nearly all file systems supported
  • Sync from/to network drives
  • Symbolic link support
  • Timestamp granularity
  • Scheduled syncing
  • Portable (needs no installation)
  • Advanced logging

Usage

I will be demonstrating on a Windows 7 machine. There is no need for an installation -- just download the correct .zip file, unpack the file, and run the .exe file. This executable will run the program (it will not install anything). When it opens, the main window will appear. In this window, you create a new Job (Figure A).

Figure A

By default, there will already be one job listed. This is a dummy job to show how jobs are set up.

Once you click the New button, the New Job window will appear. In this new window you must configure the sync job. Depending upon how you configure the job, various tabs will become available. For example, if you create a job with a Sync Mode that is Synchronize A ↔ B, the Conflict Resolution tab will become available. For all jobs the Log, Schedule, Advanced, Basic, and Actions tabs will be accessible.

One thing I find really nice about DirSync Pro is that when you select a Sync Mode for a job, you are given a full explanation of how that mode works. Be sure you read through the description so you know the mode is the proper mode for the job.

After you have created your sync job, you can expand the job to see exactly what the configuration looks like (Figure B).

Figure B

You cannot edit from this view, but you can see exactly what will happen when the job is run.

After a job is ready, hit the Run button and watch the synchronization occur (Figure C).

Figure C

It might not be the fastest backup tool, but it does the job.

Scheduling

I want to show that all features work across platforms, so I will demonstrate scheduling a job on the Linux version of the software.

To schedule a job for reoccurring synchronization, do the following:

  1. Select the job to be scheduled from the main window.
  2. Click the Edit button.
  3. Click the Schedule tab.
  4. Click the New button in the Schedule tab.
  5. From the Schedule window (Figure D), configure the schedule.
  6. Select the Schedule Type from the list.
  7. Click the tab associated with the type of backup selected.
  8. Configure the options for the backup type.
  9. When complete, click OK.

Figure D

For a weekly schedule, it is possible to choose the days of the week and the times of day.

Depending upon the type of scheduling you choose, different tabs will become available. As found with the backup type, there is plenty of information about types of backup schedules to be found within the Basics tab.

Even with a scheduled job, you can chose to manually run a task -- just select the job and click the Run button. And, at any time during the job, you can pause or stop the task.

Bottom line

DirSync Pro is an outstanding tool that will have you syncing directories to ensure safe backups of data. No, you won't be backing up system states or full images of machines, but for any small shop that needs a free backup tool that functions like something with a price tag, DirSync Pro is worth your consideration.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

1 comments
Craig_B
Craig_B

Jack, thank you for this and all the other open source articles you have written. I'm in a Microsoft shop with only the tinest bit of Linux. Your articles have help me be better informed about various solutions that can be used. Thanks... Craig

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